Another of the Oscar contenders this year. It is an interesting slice of life, with some issues for me. First off I hated the 3 color corrects, and was distracted by them. Then the shaky cinematography was awful, and distracting. Life is not that shaky, so cinematography like that just seems lazy to me. And third and foremost, the casting of Chiron as 3 actors who don’t look alike, and the conscious decision to not even let the 3 actors meet so their performances are each their own, does not help the film either. An interesting story, but the experimental methods pulled me out of the film instead of drawing me in.
Chiron (Alex Hibbert) is a shy African American child who is taken under the wing of drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his girlfriend Teresa (Janelle Monáe). Chiron’s mom Paula (Naomie Harris) is a real piece of work, abusive and a drug addict who buys crack from Juan. Chiron has one friend Kevin (Jaden Piner), and spends much time with Juan until he gets him to admit he sells crack to his mom.
Review Contains Spoilers…
As a teenager (now played by Aston Sanders) Chiron is constantly bullied by Terell (Patrock Deville), and still friends with Kevin (now pkayed by Jharrell Jerome). Paula is selling herself for drugs and taking any money he has for drugs. At the beack Chiron and Kevin kiss and Kevin jerks Chiron off. The next day Terell bullies Kevin into beating up Chiron. And he does, followed by Terrel. Chiron refuses to press charges, but the next day takes a chair and smashes Terrel and is dragged off by the police as Kevin watches.
As an adult, Chiron (now played by supercut Trevante Rhodes) going by the nickname Black, which Kevin used to call him, is now a drug dealer. Paula has found god and wants him to visit her. And he gets a call from Kevin (André Holland) who is a chef in Miami and wants to cook for him. Chiron goes and sees his mother and forgives her, then heads to Miami to see Kevin. They drink and go to Kevin’s apartment, where Chiron admits he has had no relationship with anyone since him. They hold each other.
Chiron had an awful life, painful to watch, but as I said the tricks in filmmaking didn’t draw me in. It is a decent film, but to me not an oscar film, but neither was Spotlight for me.